Historic Precedent: Employment Bureau in West Jerusalem to serve Palestinians from EJ Too

A historic precedent was set by the Israeli Supreme Court in relation to a petition brought on March 15, by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, in collaboration […]

A historic precedent was set by the Israeli Supreme Court in relation to a petition brought on March 15, by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, in collaboration with WAC-MAAN Workers Union. The petition was presented by lawyer Abir Jubran-Dakwar. The Israeli Employment Bureau (EB), according to the verdict, is obliged to enable the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem (EJ) to receive services from employment centres in West Jerusalem.

Before this decision, Palestinian jobseekers living in EJ were separated from Jewish jobseekers.On June 21, 2018 this separation came to an end. As part of its response to the petition, the State announced that “residents of the eastern part of the city are entitled to receive a full range of services in Employment Service offices in the western part.” This puts an end to decades of discrimination.

“Conditions at the Employment Bureau and the Population and Immigration Authority in East Jerusalem are far from satisfactory, to say the least,” the judges said, one judge even calling them “hell”. The court criticized the fact that the crowds must wait in the street, as well as the way the security guards treat those waiting. It also found fault with the use of a revolving gate to enter the building, where the norm is to use such only for exiting. These revolving gates are remote controlled; they slow progress significantly, sometimes causing injury.

The humiliating treatment and the terrible conditions at the entrance to the building are familiar to WAC-MAAN staff. Each year, the workers’ organization assists hundreds of people, particularly EJ women, in claiming their rights at the Employment Bureau. As part of its efforts, WAC has trained a large group of these women who now help others of both sexes. They also document what happens each day in the long lines.

The State also announced that in the coming months it will be monitoring the effect of its decision on employment offices in the city, and on the quality of services they provide in terms of having sufficient resources to cope with an expected rise in the number of jobseekers.

At the same time, the State said that jobseekers may not move to a new employment office if another employment office is already handling their case. No reasonable explanation was given for this caveat. Currently, all Palestinians living in East Jerusalem must use one employment office in Wadi Joz, where queues are very long. To reduce the unreasonable waiting times, we are demanding that the Employment Service put into place an immediate, planned transfer of jobseeker cases from Wadi Joz to the Employment office in Jaffa Street, West Jerusalem. We also demand that Arabic speaking personnel should be employed at the Jaffa Street office.

WAC’s Erez Wagner says: “Unfortunately, while we are pleased that new employment cases may be taken on by West Jerusalem offices, no satisfactory solution has been suggested in relation to the current overcrowding in Wadi Joz.” This marks a continuation of the long-standing failure by the State to improve the lives of East Jerusalem residents in relation to basic services, such as population registration and job seeking. Substantial, long term solutions are required, where East Jerusalem residents may use any Interior Ministry, and where there is sufficient staffing and basic services in the East Jerusalem Employment Bureau.”

Translated from Hebrew by Yaara Gregory

אודות Wac-Maan